Tag Archives: groundhog day

The Mysterious Case of the Beaver in the ‘Burbs


After many years in the suburbs, it seems logical that I would be familiar with most of the local wildlife by now.

But when I saw something huge and furry that wasn’t my dog scurry across my backyard, I was pretty sure that I had witnessed something new to the ‘burbs.

“There’s a beaver in our backyard,” I informed my husband.  “I think it may be here because of our brook.  It’s going to build a dam,” I said with unquestionable authority.

“First of all, there are no beavers in the suburbs,” he told me.  “Second of all, it’s not a brook, it’s a drainage canal.  Lastly, it would need a variance for a dam.”

“I’m serious,” I protested.  “I saw a beaver.”

“Did it have a flat tail?”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“Then it’s not a beaver.  It was probably a groundhog.”

I thought about the fact that Groundhog Day was approaching, and realized my husband might be right.  I was wildlife-savvy enough to know that it was certainly the right time of year to be seeing drowsy groundhogs fresh from hibernation stumbling about as they looked for their shadows. The problem was I had always thought groundhogs were about the size of gophers, and the thing I saw was about the size of my dog which meant it was either a really  large gopher, a small beaver, or it was in fact, a groundhog, but since I had never actually seen any of the above, I really couldn’t say for sure what the heck it was.

So I looked on the Internet and decided that the picture of the groundhog on the web was a pretty good likeness of the animal in my backyard.  Then I read something that shocked me.img_0558

“Did you know that the groundhog doesn’t come out of his burrow in February to see his shadow?  He’s actually just looking for a mate!  And then when he finds one, they will BOTH probably go back to his burrow and hibernate again until spring.”

“No way!!!!” exclaimed my husband in mock horror.  “Next you’re going to tell me there’s no such thing as Santa Claus!”

“You don’t understand,” I said.  “This isn’t a joke.  That big, furry thing living in our backyard is out there looking for another big, furry thing to live in our backyard with it.”

“And that’s a problem because…”

“They could have rabies!  They could have babies!  They could have babies with rabies!”

“I’m glad you’re thinking rationally about this,” said my husband.

I ignored him and started thumbing through the yellow pages to find a wildlife control person who possibly had a sub-specialty in sleepy, mating groundhogs disguised as beavers.  Then it occurred to me that I might not actually have to deal with this issue right away.

“You know, if the groundhog sees his shadow while he’s out looking for his mate, they’ll hibernate again and we won’t have to worry about them for at least six more weeks,” I rationalized.

“So what will you do then?” asked my husband.

I thought for a minute.  “Move.”


©2016, Beckerman. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Da Holidays

How Much Wood Can A Woodchuck Choke on?

groundhog bite meLast year I had a real problem with Groundhog Day. The issue was, there were just too many darn celebrity groundhogs with differing predictions for the end of winter and I didn’t know who to believe. Between world-renowned rodent, Punxatawny Phil, lesser-known wonder woodchuck, Staten Island Chuck, and scores of others, the playing field was just way too crowded with clairvoyant groundhogs. I also wondered if, perhaps, Chuck, Phil, and the rest of the superstar groundhogs could be trusted. Much as movie stars turn on the charm when the cameras are rolling, I wondered if the celebrity groundhogs might be less concerned with getting the change of seasons right and more interested in just striking a pretty pose for the cameras.

So this year I decided to follow a different groundhog. This year I was betting on our groundhog. Suburban Stan, as we call him, lives under our deck, and like his celebrity brethren, he also takes a peak out from his lair around Groundhog Day. I wasn’t sure if he was really looking for his shadow like the other dudes, or if he was just checking to see if the evil family dog was still lurking around. But if he happened to see his shadow (or not) while looking around, the end result would be the same and I would have my prediction. I was fairly certain Stan would give us an unbiased reading, because unlike Phil and Chuck, he didn’t have a crowd to please or paparazzi to perform for. He also didn’t have his own security team, twitter account, or Facebook page, had never been reported on by Perez Hilton or TMZ, did not have an arrest record, a shopping addiction, or his own reality show, wasn’t related to the Kardashians, and had never hosted SNL, so all in all, I thought he was probably a pretty grounded groundhog.

As we got closer to Groundhog Day, though, I began to get nervous that Stan might sleep though the big event. Celebrity groundhogs have their own people to wake them up and make sure that they are camera ready when the moment arrives, but Stan had no people. He didn’t even have a stunt double. What if Stan failed me? I’d have to rely on the actual calendar and Al Roker to tell me when spring would arrive.

Knowing he has a way with sleepy groundhogs, I considered phoning Bill Murray to see if he could stop by and rouse Stan at the right time. I was pretty sure that Bill would do it because he’s between films and I’m sure he has nothing better to do than trek out to the suburbs and wake up large hibernating rodents. However, I was concerned that having Bill Murray come over to see him might give Stan a swelled head and then he would think he, too, was a celebrity groundhog, so I nixed that idea.

Then I had an epiphany. With so many celebrity groundhogs out there, was it possible that all groundhogs have the secret desire to be famous? Are they all just waiting to be discovered and hailed as the new Punxatawny Phil, get their own movie with Bill Murray, and refuse to answer when someone refers to them as a woodchuck?

I thought if this was true and Stan was a celeb groundhog wannabe, then there was really no problem. When the time came for him to perform, I ‘d just roll out a red carpet and stand around with a camera.

Sadly, when the big day arrived, Stan was a no-show and I ended up having to go with Phil’s forecast. On a beautiful, sunny, unwinter-like winter day, Phil decided we were going to have an early spring. I thought this was a pretty good prediction until 3 days later when it snowed.

Deciding that none of the groundhogs could be trusted, I figure I’d ask the few people I knew could be trusted. But unfortunately, none of the Presidential candidates returned my calls.

©2016, Beckerman. All rights reserved.

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To become a fan of Lost in Suburbia on Facebook, Visit me here
To follow me on Twitter, visit me here


Filed under Da Holidays